In a bid to put down party men airing views on its prime ministerial candidate, Bharatiya Janata Party President Rajnath Singh on Monday issued a virtual gag order on the issue, which was breached by two leaders from Bihar pitching for Narendra Modi.
Concerned over party leaders voicing their opinion in public and the fissures within National Democratic Alliance on the issue of declaring the Gujarat chief minister as BJP's prime ministerial candidate, Singh made a "final appeal" to his party leaders not to speak on the issue.
"I want to humbly appeal to BJP workers and leaders that there should be no statement from them on who will be the candidate for the Prime Minister's post. As I have said earlier, the BJP convention is that any decision on the chief ministerial or prime ministerial candidate is taken by the central parliamentary board," he told reporters in Delhi.
Singh had issued a similar directive earlier but it seems to have had little impact on the BJP leaders.
No sooner had Singh issued his directive, former Bihar BJP chief C P Thakur reiterated his support for Modi as the PM candidate, saying the party would gain from it.
Insisting that Singh has not issued a gag order, Thakur said, "The BJP will gain (by declaring Modi the candidate). By declaring him (Modi) the candidate, BJP will certainly gain because of many factors... There is a feeling among the people that he should be the candidate."
Another BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha backed party colleague Yashwant Sinha who has openly pitched for declaring Modi as its prime ministerial candidate.
"Yashwant Sinhaji is a senior and an experienced leader. He never talks light. He speaks only after giving deep thought on an issue, I stand with him on what he has said," Sinha told reporters in Patna.
"There is always truth in what he says I have always been by his side ideologically," Shatrughan said.
Echoing Rajnath's views, president of BJP's key ally Janata Dal-United Sharad Yadav demanded an end to the "mad rush" among NDA leaders to speak on the issue.
"I have never seen such a mad rush for prime ministership in the last six decades," Yadav told reporters. The JD-U has reservations about Modi being made the PM candidate of NDA.